4240.0 - Preschool Education, Australia, 2016 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/02/2017   
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1 This publication contains statistics on children enrolled and attending preschool programs across Australia in 2016. The statistics were compiled from data collected through the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection (the Collection). The Collection includes data about service providers and children. Data on workers were included in some previous cycles of the Collection and were sought for 2016 but were sometimes incomplete or not yet available. Accordingly, statistics on workers have not been included in this publication, however may be available on request at a later date.


2 For the purposes of the Collection, a preschool program is defined as a structured, play based learning program, delivered by a degree qualified teacher, aimed primarily at children in the year or two before they commence full-time schooling. This is irrespective of the type of institution that provides it or whether it is government funded or privately provided.

3 A preschool program can be delivered in a variety of settings such as stand-alone preschools, preschools co-located as part of a school (both government and non-government), and within a Long Day Care (LDC) centre. A child may attend both a preschool and a separate or adjoined child care facility, such as family day care, outside school hours care, vacation care, in-home care and occasional care services. LDC centres may or may not offer a preschool program as part of their service offering. Participation in preschool is not compulsory and is influenced by parental preference and other factors, such as school starting age in the particular jurisdiction. Preschool programs are referred to by a variety of other terms across state and territories. Age entry requirements also differ across states and territories. These differences are summarised in the following table:


Preschool (Year before full-time schooling)
First year of School (Year prior to Grade 1)
Jurisdiction Program name Age entry requirement Program name Age entry requirement

New South Wales(a) Preschool Generally aged 4 and 5 Kindergarten 5 by 31 July
Victoria(b) Kindergarten 4 by 30 April Preparatory (Prep) 5 by 30 April
Queensland Kindergarten 4 by 30 June Preparatory Year (Prep) 5 by 30 June
South Australia(c) Preschool 4 by 1 May Reception 5 by 1 May
Western Australia Kindergarten 4 by 30 June Pre Primary 5 by 30 June
Tasmania Kindergarten 4 by 1 January Preparatory 5 by 1 January
Northern Territory(d) Preschool 4 by 30 June Transition 5 by 30 June
Australian Capital Territory Preschool 4 by 30 April Kindergarten 5 by 30 April

(a) In New South Wales, all licensed children’s services for under 6 year olds (who have not commenced Kindergarten) are required to offer programs that meet children’s educational and developmental needs. New South Wales subsidises access to community preschool for all 4 and 5 year olds, all 3 year old Aboriginal children, and all 3 year old children from low income families.
(b) In Victoria, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children known to child protection are eligible for free kindergarten if they are 3 years of age by April 30 of the year in which they are enrolled.
(c) SA provides early access to Department funded preschool for children who are Aboriginal or under the Guardianship of the Minister after their 3rd birthday. The compulsory school starting age in SA is 6 years at the oldest.
(d) NT provides early access to preschool for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in remote areas if they turn 3 by 30 June of the year they are enrolled. Children turning 4 after 30 June are eligible to enrol in a preschool program after their birthday, if places are available and with the understanding that the child will access more than 12 months of preschool.
Source: based on Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision data, Report on Government Services February 2016.


4 The scope of the Collection consists of all service providers delivering a preschool program to children aged 3 to 6 years (inclusive) enrolled during the reference period.


5 A service provider is considered to be in-scope if it was providing a structured, play based learning program, delivered by a degree qualified teacher, aimed at children in the year or two before they commence full-time schooling (a preschool program) during the reference period.


6 All children who as at 1 July in the collection year were between 3 and 6 years of age (inclusive) and were enrolled during the reference period in a preschool program are in-scope of the Collection. To be considered as enrolled, the child must have attended the preschool program for at least one hour during the reference period, or be absent due to illness or extended holiday leave and expected to return.

7 In an effort to achieve comprehensive coverage, data were sourced from the Australian Government, state and territory education departments and the Catholic Education Office of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. The data are mainly sourced from administrative collections, supplemented where necessary to improve the coverage of service providers not otherwise captured due to funding, regulation or licensing arrangements. The coverage in each state and territory for the 2016 Collection is described in Appendix 3 - Jurisdictional Data Quality Statements (available in the second stage of release).

8 The current governance responsibilities for ECE within each jurisdiction are outlined below:


Jurisdiction Government Department

Australian Government Australian Government Department of Education and Training
New South Wales Department of Education
Victoria Department of Education and Training
Queensland Department of Education and Training
South Australia Department for Education and Child Development
Western Australia Department of Education
Tasmania Department of Education
Northern Territory Department of Education
Australian Capital Territory Education Directorate


9 To ensure national comparability, all jurisdictions were required to follow national data standards. The Early Childhood Education and Care National Minimum Data Set (ECEC NMDS) is a set of national data standards which has been established by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), in conjunction with the ABS, the Department of Education and Training, and state and territory departments responsible for early childhood education. More information on the ECEC NMDS can be found on the AIHW website <http://meteor.aihw.gov.au>.

10 Not all jurisdictions were able to align their collection methods precisely with these standards as described in Appendix 3 (available in the second stage of release). Issues affecting data comparability between the states and territories are included as footnotes and/or explanatory notes within this publication.


11 For the 2016 Collection, information on preschool programs delivered in Long Day Care (LDC) settings was primarily provided by the Australian Government from the Child Care Management System (CCMS), through which all services approved for the purposes of administering Child Care Benefit (CCB) are obliged to provide data.

12 The Australian Government Department of Education and Training implemented an expanded service and child identification strategy for the 2016 Collection. LDCs are now all 'early childhood education and care' services under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010, Education and Care Services National Law (Queensland) Act 2011 and the Education and Care Services National Law (WA) Act 2012. As such, in the CCMS data for 2016, the Australian Government Department of Education and Training identifies all children, of the appropriate age, at LDCs as attending a preschool program.

13 In addition, only billable (i.e. enrolled) hours were collected, not hours of attendance or hours of education received. It is assumed that children attended all of their enrolled hours.

14 The implementation of this strategy is a significant contributor to the differences in data between the 2016 and 2015 Collections.


15 The Collection date is the first Friday in August of each year. The census date for the 2016 Collection is Friday 5 August 2016, with the 1 week reference period spanning 1 August to 7 August 2016. Some jurisdictions may adopt a 2 week reference period that needs to include the census week. This means the permissible period spans 25 July to 14 August 2016 inclusive. Jurisdictional collection dates and reference periods for 2016 are summarised in the table below:

Jurisdictional Collection Dates and Reference Periods - 2016

Jurisdiction Collection Date Reference Period

Australian Government 5 August 2016 3 August - 9 August 2016
23 May - 29 May 2016(a)
New South Wales 5 August 2016 1 August - 12 August 2016(b)
Victoria 5 August 2016 1 August - 6 August 2016
Queensland 5 August 2016 1 August - 7 August 2016
South Australia 5 August 2016 1 August - 12 August 2016(b)
Western Australia 5 August 2016 1 August - 5 August 2016
Tasmania 5 August 2016 27 July - 7 August 2016(b)
Northern Territory 5 August 2016 13 June - 5 August 2016(c)(d)
Australian Capital Territory 5 August 2016 27 July - 7 August 2016(e)

28 July - 8 August 2016(f)

(a) Australian Government Department of Education and Training National Workforce Census reference week for all approved child care service providers except vacation care
(b) Jurisdiction collected data for a fortnightly reference period to reflect their preschool delivery model
(c) Reference period for NT did not apply for school holidays between 27 June 2016 - 24 July 2016
(d) Two remote schools operate on different school terms. The reference periods for these schools are 6 June - 5 August 2016 and 9 June - 26 August.
(e) Reference period for ACT Independent & Government preschools.
(f) Reference period for ACT Catholic preschools.


16 Jurisdictions collect and report data for the Collection using either a Unit Record Level (URL) collection methodology or combination of URL and aggregate collection methodologies.

17 A URL methodology collects information for individual children and service providers. In 2016, all jurisdictions were able to collect data applying a URL methodology.

18 An aggregate methodology collects aggregated information at the service provider level. In 2016 Qld collected aggregate data from a number of unfunded preschool programs in ‘community’, ‘other private for profit’ and ‘independent’ preschools. Qld also collected aggregate data from non-government LDCs.

19 A URL collection is the most appropriate method for ensuring a child who is enrolled in multiple preschool programs is only counted once in child level estimates. Aggregate data collection methodologies are limited in their capacity to identify children attending multiple preschool programs. Therefore, care needs to be taken when interpreting the Qld results due to the inherent data limitations caused by the use of a combination of child URL and aggregate methodologies.


20 For the Collection, an episode is a single occurrence of a child enrolled in and/or attending a preschool program. When a child attends two different preschool programs, this is described as a child having two attendance episodes.


21 The unique child count ensures that when a child attends two or more different preschool programs, the child is only counted once. In any given collection year, the number of unique children will be expected to be less than their number of preschool episodes.


22 In 2016, a new definition of the YBFS population has been created, which takes into account the preschool and school entry provisions of the state in which the child usually resides (see Explanatory Note 3) and the child’s date of birth. As part of deriving this state-specific YBFS population, adjustment factors have been applied to certain cohorts for both New South Wales and Victoria to account for the rates at which children proceed from preschool to school education in those states. The adjustments are based on advice from the state education departments and are:
  • For NSW, children aged between 3 years and 11 months and 4 years and 6 months (at 1 July of collection year) are likely to proceed to school in the following year at a rate of 56%.
  • For Victoria, children aged between 4 years and 2 months and 4 years and 6 months (at 1 July of collection year) are likely to proceed to school the following year at a decreasing rate (month of birth: January 74%, February 63%, March 52%, April 41%).
Results based on the former YBFS definition used until 2015 will cease to be published by the ABS but are available on request and included in TableBuilder facilities.


23 Fee schedules can differ between programs, organisations and jurisdictions. Fees may be charged daily, weekly, annually, per session or per term. If data is collected at any level other than weekly, the weekly fee is derived from the collected fee and fee schedule. Fees charged are usually based on the number of hours of a preschool program a child is enrolled to receive.

24 For aggregate data, information on fees per child is based on a service's schedule of fixed fees, for example a charge of $150 per full term. For URL data, information on fees is collected at the episode level. Where a child has more than one preschool episode, their fees are calculated by summing the fees for all of their episodes.

25 In 2016 preschool fees were unable to be identified separately from LDC fees in the CCMS. Preschool fees in CCMS were calculated by proportioning the preschool hours to the total hours at the LDC centre for each enrolment. This assumes that a fee structure for a preschool program at a LDC centre is the same as the fee structure for non-preschool program care at the same LDC centre.

26 Data on fees are rounded to the nearest dollar for publication.


27 For aggregate data, information on hours is collected at the service provider level. Hours per child are derived based on the number of enrolments at that service provider.

28 For URL data, information on hours is collected at the episode level. Where a child has more than one episode at a preschool program their hours are calculated by summing the hours for all of their episodes.

29 Data on hours are rounded to the nearest hour for publication. Hours less than 1 but more than 0 are rounded to 1 hour.


30 The preliminary ERP figures presented in this publication are published numbers based on the 2011 Census. The ABS has provided these numbers as indicative only. They have been included here to support comparative reporting that has been performed using the 2011 ERP time series. In the Collection, children enrolled and attending preschool programs in Jervis Bay have been included in statistics for the ACT. The Other Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands have been included in statistics for WA. Official ERP numbers for WA and ACT do not include Other Territories.

ESTIMATED RESIDENT POPULATION(a), Single Year of Age - as at June 2016


3 Year old
101 180
79 274
65 215
20 748
35 059
6 247
3 782
5 661
317 199
4 Year old
100 528
78 547
65 573
20 794
34 757
6 458
3 761
5 413
315 869
5 Year old
98 027
74 548
63 769
19 905
34 071
6 264
3 504
5 268
305 378
6 Year old
99 107
76 115
65 049
20 335
34 407
6 298
3 671
5 275
310 289

(a) Estimated Resident Population (ERP) by state/territory and age as published on 15 December 2016 in Australian Demographic Statistics, June 2016 (cat. no. 3101.0). The Census base for ERP is 2011.
(b) Australia total includes Other Territories.


31 Statistics in this publication are presented according to Sector, Statistical Geography and Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA).


32 The Sector classification used in this publication is a combination of the service provider characteristics Service Activity Type and Management Type, which are part of the ECEC NMDS. Where a child is enrolled in multiple preschool programs, the child’s sector is determined by the characteristics of all the providers at which the child was enrolled.

33 Tables presented with this classification assign episodes and unique child counts to states and territories according to the geographic location of the service provider.


34 The Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) is the ABS' geographical framework, which came into effect from July 2011. The ASGS replaced the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC). For the 2016 Collection, data have been classified to the ASGS Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1) and may be output using aggregations of ASGS SA1s and higher statistical areas.

35 The digital boundaries, codes and labels for each of these regions can be downloaded from the ABS website free of charge <https://www.abs.gov.au/geography>.

36 The Remoteness Structure within the ASGS divides each state and territory into areas on the basis of their relative access to services. The classes of Remoteness Area (RA) are:
  • Major Cities of Australia
  • Inner Regional Australia
  • Outer Regional Australia
  • Remote Australia
  • Very Remote Australia
  • Migratory - Offshore - Shipping
  • No usual address.

37 For more information please refer to the online publication: Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2011 (cat. no. 1270.0.55.005).

38 There are two sets of statistics presented using RAs in this publication. The RA of the child’s main service provider is used, as well as the RA of the child’s usual residence. Where a child’s usual residence is not stated, their main service provider’s geography is used as a proxy. If the service provider’s geography is also not stated, the child’s RA may be imputed where possible and otherwise included only in the totals. It is possible for states or territories to have a zero count in a certain RA class; Tasmania does not contain a Major City, the Northern Territory does not contain a Major City or an Inner Regional classification, and ACT does not contain Remote or Very Remote classifications.

39 The quantity of records for which RA was derived, using service provider geography, can be identified from the Not Stated SEIFA IRSD data.


40 The SEIFA is a product developed especially for those interested in the assessment of the welfare of Australian communities. SEIFA is a suite of four summary measures that have been created from 2011 Census of Population and Housing information. For each index, every geographic area in Australia is given a SEIFA number which shows how disadvantaged that area is compared with other areas in Australia. Quintiles are calculated by ordering the scores for all areas from lowest to highest, with the lowest 20% of areas given a quintile number of 1 and so on, up to the highest 20% of areas which are given a quintile number of 5. The indexes provide more general measures of socio-economic status than is given by measuring, for example, income or unemployment alone. The SEIFA index used for the Collection is the Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD). Where a child’s geography was not stated, the SEIFA IRSD is published as Not Stated.

41 For more information on SEIFA please see the Information Paper: An Introduction to Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), 2006 (cat. no. 2039.0).


42 The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. This requirement means that the ABS must ensure that any statistical information about individuals cannot be derived from published data.

43 To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values and summary variables. This technique is called perturbation. Perturbation involves small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics.

44 After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, adding up cell values to derive a total will not necessarily give the same result as published totals.

45 The introduction of perturbation in this publication ensures that these statistics are consistent with statistics released via services such as TableBuilder.


46 For more information on these Collection measurement concepts see the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 4240.0.55.001).

47 For more information on data collection instructions and guidelines see the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Data Collection Guide, 2016 (available on request).

48 Additional statistics are available from Microdata: Preschool Education, Australia, 2016 (cat. no. 4240.0.55.003) using the TableBuilder and/or DataLab facilities.

49 For more information on Estimated Resident Population and Population Projections, see Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0), Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia (cat. no. 3235.0) and Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (cat. no. 3238.0).

50 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service (NIRS) on 1300 135 070.